2004 INTERVIEW: Neil Young | Details Magazine
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As Neil Young's 2017 sabbatical continues, we've been plowing deep into the Thrasher's Wheat Archives Vaults.
Here's a March 2004 interview with Neil Young from Details Magazine [defunct publication]:
Q: What's your advice to anyone who's stuck in a rut?
Neil Young: Change things. Try not to hurt people, but if you have to, be honest. Say: "I can't do this anymore. I've got to make some changes. I'll be back."
Q: But when one of your weird creative impulses strikes, you must take some flak from people...
A: Yeah, but what do they know? They know nothing. They don't even know what the hell the idea is. They weren't there when it happened. They have nothing to say.
Q: Your father made a living as a writer. What did you learn from him?
A: He told me if I ever thought I didn't have anything to write, to just sit down and see what happened, see what came out, and not judge it. Don't edit. Just write. Forget editing. He was a real gentle guy; he still is.
Q: You seem pretty reluctant to edit stuff yourself. Take that song on Greendale, "Bandit": I don't think I've ever heard a guitar string rattle that much on a contemporary record.
A: Oh, yeah! And a dickhead engineer might spend four hours trying to get rid of that. By the time he got finished, the artist trying to sing the song would be totally asleep and the whole fuckin' moment would've passed. I personally went out of my way to get that thing to rattle as much as it did. It rattles like hell! I sang that in a little box, like a six-by-ten-by-six box, completely closed in, with a plexiglass wall so the sound had nowhere to go. That's why it sounds so claustrophobic. If you turn it up real loud, that fucker really is rocking.
Q: When you're writing songs, is there something you need to get going? Coffee? Cigarettes?
Q: Walk in the woods? Plate of bacon and eggs?
Q: How about when you're sick?
A: It works better. I don't know why.
Q: I came across an old story that said you wrote "Cinnamon Girl, "' "Down by the River," and "Cowgirl in the Sand" in one day in 1969 when you were knocked out with the flu.
A: One afternoon. Yeah. I was sick. I had a fever. Sittin' in bed, in Topanga Canyon. I think it's because when you're sick you don't spend a lot of time trying to put up a front. You're just being who you are.
Q: What kind of animals do you have on your ranch in Northern California?
A: Well, it's not like Neverland or anything. We just have horses, cows. We don't have a giraffe, we don't have a preschool group. We had some emus for a while. They were pretty cool.
Q: What does an emu do?
A: Not much. But when it comes towards you, the ground shakes.